PTI going from potential to serious ‘spoiler’?

Published: September 26, 2011

The PTI, says the Fafen worker, have a good shot at picking up seats in Lahore and other urban areas of Punjab. PHOTO: EXPRESS

The faint but unmissable whiff of electioneering is in the Islamabad air. The general elections might be two years away, but political parties and potential candidates are already aligning themselves to ensure the political winds do not sweep them away.

The greatest potential for a surprising change, according to a worker of the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) group who has worked in the Punjab, comes from dissatisfied members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), specifically those aligned with chief minister Shahbaz Sharif. These members are not only unhappy with Nawaz Sharif’s leadership of the party, they also fear that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) will be very competitive in the province.

The PTI, says the Fafen worker, have a good shot at picking up seats in Lahore and other urban areas of Punjab, almost all at the expense of the PML-N. He estimates that the PTI, which boycotted the 2008 elections and had dismal results in the 2003 and 1997 elections, could pick up as many as 10 to 15 seats in the next elections and play the role of a spoiler, denying the PML-N the chance to form the government.

One of the more prominent PML-N members thought to be considering a shift is Hanif Abbasi, who has less loyalty to the party having only joined it in 2007 after leaving the Jamaat-e-Islami.

Abbasi is seriously contemplating jumping ship and attaching himself to the PTI but it is far more likely that he will wait for the election results in 2013 before making a final decision.

Other, less important members of the PML-N, though, could start making the switch to the PTI from next year.

In the coming months the PTI will also be picking up dissatisfied members from the various Muslim Leagues, especially the ‘Q’ franchise. Jehangir Tareen has been making a lot of noise of forming a party of incorruptible people, and Ishaq Khan Khakwani, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Awais Leghari and Jamal Leghari are poised to join him.

These dissatisfied members face two choices: either to form their own party or join the PTI. Whichever decision they ultimately make, the effect will be the same as any potential new party would ally itself to the PTI.

This new ‘clean’ party, however, is a bit dirtier than the rhetoric would have you believe. As the minister for industries, production and special initiatives, Tareen managed to get a low-interest loan for himself from the Asian Development Bank which he used to set up two sugar mills.

Tareen has also been embroiled in a spat with his brother-in-law Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood. Mahmood was the district nazim in Rahim Yar Khan and got Tareen elected from his area in 2002. In the 2008 elections, Mahmood helped Tareen get elected on a PML-F ticket. Recently, however, they have had a falling out as Mahmood has accused Tareen of stealing Rs3 billion worth of shares in JDW sugar mill, taking over the company in the process. Mahmood took back control of the mill through force and fired the management and has now ditched Tareen, making him less of a political asset than before.

Whatever else one thinks of Imran Khan, he, and his party, have never been accused of such financial shenanigans. However, with Imran inviting Tareen to his dharna against corruption last month, this could be a sign that the PTI is willing to compromise its first principles to be politically competitive.


Nadir Hassan

An Islamabad based journalist who tweets at @Nadir_Hassan.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Mannan

    PTI will be the upcoming care-taker goverment.
    And under their governance they will clean sweep the next general election. Recommend

  • AMI

    Imran Khan will sweep the next election…!!! InshAllah!Recommend

  • Balochistan

    Tribune seemed to be getting money to promote PTI, I assure entire Pakistan and the world that PTI would never get more than 3 seats across the country. PTI is pro-taliban party and until people of Pakistan are secular and against talibanization they would never vote for PTI.Recommend

  • غلام فرید

    Some time back critics didn’t take PTI seriously, later they called them potential spoilers and now serious spoilers with 10-15 seats. Very soon all the critics will realise the strength of PTI and youth behind Imran Khan.

    PTI is going to win next election whether someone like it or Not.

    Criticism is always welcome from any blogger :) Recommend

  • zia ur rehman

    lolz… that same old nadir hassan dude, who wrote “imran khan: the leader the pawn”.. is now realizing the potential of IK and PTI…. ur story is just like hassan nisar. I bet after few days, u will declare IK as spoiler for all corrupt parties in pakistan…. .. Recommend

  • Pakistani

    the indians for sure woudn’t want any positive things to happen in Pakistan. Sweet dreams!Recommend

  • Nadir

    Waht kind of new politics will PTI offer with all the same old faces? They can blow hot and cold, but getting enough seats to form a government? No way..enough seats to join a coaltion? Perhaps..and then what?Compromises!Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    East Or West Imran Khan is Best..Recommend

  • Raja Islam

    A good cricketer does not make a good politician. Imran Khan and PTI are not electable. The party and its leadership do not have a clear manifesto and cannot relate to the common man. Now coming into power in the form of a caretaker government is very different from being elected into government.Recommend

  • AD

    @ Balochistan, few months ago that was my prediction too, but now I have changed it to only seat and that too of some powerful landlord. Imran has no chance in our democratic system. Recommend

  • awais anwar khokhar, lahore

    I believe PTI can bring change for poor people of Pakistan but only if it enters new faces into politics. If PTI repeats its strategy of bye elections, then PTI will also make the people fool like other political parties. It is my belief. Recommend

  • Zoaib

    LOL. The PTI will be a spoiler for EVERY party in government this time. All of these analysts will do good to realize this sooner rather than later. You just have to look at the opinions of different analysts six months from now, and right now, and you’ll know how they’ve been trying (with much difficulty) to update their “predictions” about Imran and PTI, seeing the growing wave in support on the ground. Give another six months, and they’ll probably come to the same conclusion as Imran :)Recommend

  • Bloom

    Imran is begging prominent politicians like Marvi Memon and Javed Hashmi etc to join PTI but he has been refused by these. Imran will get maximum 2 to 3 seats in NARecommend

  • faraz

    No movement can change Pakistan which does not mobilize the working class and peasants. And I have never heard of anything which Imran has to offer for these poor masses. The elitist issues concerning foreign policy, defense and strategy only attract the attention of the youth and urban middle class. But such rhetoric cannot transform PTI into a revolutionary force.Recommend

  • Danish Obaid

    * If they get politically heavy stalwarts then guys like you start fuming that he is going for compromise and is like every other politician.
    * When he does not go for political alliances ( read musharraf’s offer for PM), then you guys brush him aside as being politically insignificant and has no electable party member save for himself.
    * * This is a paradox you see as one side he is only admissible in your books of honoured leaders (read benazir, nawaz shariff, musharraf, zardari, gillani and all those angels in between),when he is someone with support from the rich and the powerful which we peasants deem as demigods and on the other hand when he promotes the exact same thing as to not going back on his ideals of aligning with such cadre, people like you disregard his potential of garnering enough seats. The problem is you are either too scared or genuinely donot want to get into the hassle of supporting him. Because people disregard him unless he has MNA material in his party ranks, he is forced to do the exact same thing you and I don’t and should not want. Imran Khan in my view is not spotless but his shortcomings, I believe, are not severe enough in hampering him as a genuine leader and administrator of the country. Look at Erdogan the PM of turkey. He had his problems and accusations but people saw him as a 100% loyal turk and supported him and look at his influence today. To me Imran is as loyal and patriotic as they get!!! Recommend

  • wsd

    From potential spoiler to serious spoiler to potential contender to serious contender and finally the ultimate winner……..This is what PTI is, a ray of hope for the disenfranchised citizens of Pakistan.

    If prominent names are not in the party it is called one man show, if they are joining it is called compromise….. Pseudo intellectuals have no limits!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Moz

    Punjab is not Pakistan, it is a part of Pakistan, technically.Recommend

  • Riaz Haq

    Imran Khan in Pakistani politics comes closest to the role Ralph Nader plays in US politics….a cleaner and better alternative to the corruption and incompetence of Democrats and Republicans who enjoy a duopoly on power in Washington.

    Now that the people in Pakistan have tried everyone else, I think it makes sense to give Imran Khan a chance to govern and see how he does in delivering better leadership that Pakistanis so desperately need.

  • Saira

    I fail to imagine the problem people have with Imran Khan. Politics indeed is a dirty game which is why we see a lot of muddy hands willing to dirty IK already. Please give us and Imran Khan a break, we need no more political astrologists.Recommend

  • Fahad Shaikh

    As of today, It seems, PTI is going to win atleast 20 Seats…
    But as soon as the election 2013 comes, It will be increasing to double (that is 40 Seats)

    PTI will make government in KPK and be in opposition in Punjab assembly and Central Assembly. Lets wait for that time to come.!!!

    As it seems today: PTI may get NA seats as below: (APPROX)

    Pindi 1
    Islamabad 2
    Lahore 3
    Mianwali 1
    Multan 1
    Faisalabad 2
    Attock 2
    Gujranwala 2
    Vehari 1
    Shakargarh 1
    Karak 1
    Mardan 2
    Peshawar 3
    Charsadda 2
    Nowshera 1

    and so on and on …
    I hope one seat from Karachi …..

    Good luck PTI Recommend

  • Reasoner

    PTI is one-man show, they can only cause damage to N-League but they won’t be able to win more than 5 PA seats and will hardly be able to win more than one seat for NA !Recommend

  • Fahad Karam

    The accusations against Mr. Jahangir Tareen are absolutely baseless. They seem to be regurgitations of hogwash on flimsy political forums. The author should do some research before singling out a well reputed and honest businessman and politician. Recommend

  • Raoz

    What is my firm believe and thinking PTI is not going to get more than 5 seats over all in country.
    I like imran khan.But the reality is in Pakistan votes are cast based on relations. PTI is getting heavy mob in dharna and Jalsas but not vote.That is reality and I can bet on it.Recommend

  • ubaidnaeem

    i belong to RYK from where tareen got elected…… and where Makhdom Ahmed Mehmod competes for district nazim… i tell u makhdoom is a prejudice person towords linguistic separation. tareen is as educated person uch better than him… the writer has noted some serious facts i think cox tht person has two sugar mills in jamaldinwali. 3rd thing i personally beleive KHAN is a loyal person and he has choosen a slow but sound process of not getting the renowned corrupt mna’s into his party.i m not saying tht he is going to do clean sweep but he is going to tell others tht he holds some groundRecommend

  • Adeel

    Tareen is the biggest individual tax payer in pakistan…lets give him benefit of the doubt!Recommend

  • Raja Islam

    @Fahad Shaikh:
    Even if you are right and I don’t agree, this analysis makes PTI a Punjab party and not a Pakistan party.Recommend

  • Imran Kamyana

    PTI= Extension of Jamat-e-Islami, engineered by right wing establishment within Pakistani stateRecommend

  • Falcon

    I think there are few flaws in this argument. Let’s consider this:
    a. Your argument assumes that current parties are addressing a poor man’s concerns while somehow Imran Khan & PTI don’t
    b. Truth remains that we can not promise the ordinary people ‘easy’ green fields without truly believing in it ourselves. Look at the objectives of PTI: Clean governance, respect for everyone’s rights, education, infrastructure build-out, taxation reforms, and foreign policy reforms with minimal military engagement on any and every front. Now tell me aren’t these the high level issues that affect everyone and the essential core of our problems. Furthermore, unless we address our short-term and long-term risks through these reforms, any change we bring about will be fleeting at best or deceptive at worst.Recommend

  • Lahori

    If Our Esteblishment Wish….Recommend

  • faraz


    Existing political parties except JI and MQM are composed of traditional elites that viciously protect their interests and privileges but remain in contact with the common man. They are masters of patronage politics, and offer small incentives to the local population in return for votes. For example, in rural areas usually feudal and heads of kinship groups get elected into the assembly. But villagers don’t care about foreign policy, overall economy etc. or corruption of the local elite. All their demands are local like gas or electricity connection. And they vote for the person who is in a position to influence and manipulate the system to cater for their local needs. These linkages of patronage and dependence don’t exist in cities, and people vote for wider agenda of a party. And the middle class world view involves the elements of ghairat, foreign policy etc. But the lower social classes of the society have nothing to do with these issues. To mobilize the poor masses, you need to focus on their needs. You need a party structure that penetrates each and every gali and mohalla of the country. Why doesn’t Imran carry out a dharna on food inflation or electricity shortages? It might not inspire the educated middle class, but will attract the attention of the poor ones. Imran has nothing to say about the huge defense budget. Why doesn’t he bring up cases of peasants and poor farmers suppressed by landlords, just like he brought up Afia case? What’s his policy about workers in factories and industry? What about land reforms or giving out land on lease to poor farmers. Recommend

  • Gulbahadur

    Punjab electorate has to decide between Sharif brothers and Imran khan.It is a choice between clean politics and otherwise.I hope they never see faces like Rana Sanaullah,the killer again.Sharif brothers are bigots and shall pay for their dual faces.Recommend

  • Grace

    The problem is that both Imran Khan and Shahbaz Sharif are the most sincere politicians in Pakistan who genuinely care about the nation. Zardari and company’s few years have been as bad as Musharraf’s 9 year dictatorship. It’s a shame we have to choose one to the detriment of the other. The ones who will benefit most as the least competent political leaders like the PPP and MQM. Their turf is guarded due to ethnic affiliation loyalty in Sind for PPP and in Karachi for MQM.Recommend

  • Falcon

    Thanks for taking out the time to explain your viewpoint. The more we know, the better positioned we are to improve. (I am not a PTI member as of now. But I do plan to join and work for PTI soon)Recommend

  • Doctor

    Imran Khan, our favorite terrorist sympathizer, is a one-man horse and pony show. Lots of talk. Let’s see in two years.Recommend

  • Hassan

    @faraz: i think i have had this argument with you before you dont get to decided what PTI’s policy should be unless you are prepared to work in the party. PTI has consultants and experts guiding them who are much more qualified than you are currently, so if you want to impact policy join the party or any other party and be courageous enough to support your political afflications rather than crticise others for theirs.

    You seem to view the world through your own coloured lenses, Imran has the support of all segments of society and the party is working in the grassroots all across the country, you havent done any research and continue to raise this mundane point time and time again. The massacre of poor people in drone attacks is slightly more important than inflation and electricity, and those two issues can only be solved once you have peace in the country. Imran has very clear views on the defense budget, he plans to increase the revenue base and keep military expenditure stagnant at current levels and increase the allocation for health and education to almost double of current levels.

    PTI talks about Justice for all do you have an idea as to what that entails it means that poor farmers and peasants can get easy access to justice against the mighty landlord. It means workers are protected and also that unions cannot blackmail legitamate businesses by using threats of violence as in the case of KESC. Land reforms are very much on the agenda and Imran would be very glad to talk about this and many issues as they did in their 100 day plan meeting with the press. TV talk shows decide the topic of the show and Imran cant talk about land reforms in a show where he is asked to comment on the foreign policy of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Hassan

    @ Doctor, and should i assume that your a CIA/ RAW/ Mossad agent who is out to destroy Pakistan, and in addition a nobody who doesnt even have the courage to use their own name while commenting on a public forum. So that to me is lots of talk and no action!!!!Recommend

  • faraz


    Read Anatol Lieven’s Pakistan: A Hard Country. Its a must read for every PTI fan. You will feel depressed after studying about the real PakistanRecommend

  • faraz


    And Imran also forgets about the massacre of people in suicide bombings and sectarian voilence. Isnt that more important than inflation?Recommend

  • Raja Islam

    You are looking at the world through rose colored glasses. Imran cannot win any election without the establishment support. Remember sitting in a drawing room and hearing clapping from a bunch of middle class intellectual wanna be’s does not mean that he has majority support.

    By the way all politics is local. The locals are worried about safety, security, food , shelter, jobs and shielding from the heavy handedness of the local police and petty government officials and not foreign policy and the army’s role.Recommend

  • http://- Farhat Kandan

    By the way all politics is local.
    The locals are worried about safety,
    security, food , shelter, jobs and
    shielding from the heavy handedness
    of the local police and petty
    government officials and not foreign
    policy and the army’s role.

    PTI talks about Justice for all do you have an idea as to

    what that entails it means that poor
    farmers and peasants can get easy
    access to justice against the mighty
    landlord. It means workers are
    protected and also that unions
    cannot blackmail legitamate
    businesses by using threats of
    violence as in the case of KESC.
    Land reforms are very much on the
    agenda and Imran would be very glad
    to talk about this and many issues
    as they did in their 100 day plan
    meeting with the press. TV talk
    shows decide the topic of the show
    and Imran cant talk about land
    reforms in a show where he is asked
    to comment on the foreign policy of


  • Pakistani

    There are 3 kinds of people in this world,
    1. Those who give a damn as what is happping around them.(uneducateed Labour class)
    2. Those who want change but are afraid due to insecure future (middle class)
    3. Those who want change ………… educated intellects.

    Unfortunately first and third category is the most caommonly found in our country.Recommend

  • Hammad

    Imran will prove to be a great benefit for Military and PPP….
    Allah Bachaaey :pRecommend

  • Asif

    I feel sorry for those people who say Imran khan hve no clear policies…Imran khan and PTI is the only party which have clear policies on every issue…U should study Imran khan vision then come here to comment..Yes i agree that Imran khan is not good politician and the reason is that he is clean he donnt know art of 2 numbri…Thts y he is fail uptill now….I think pti is not one man show pti have most compitent Team of Pakistan…Problem is they all are new faces and all are clean no one have corruption charges thats y infamous..
    See the team of PTI

  • khizar

    i think u have a mind with peanut size IMRAN KHAN is the only leader who is not corruptRecommend